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Poster: dead-head_Monte Date: Apr 4, 2010 10:01am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: TDIH -- Vassar Clements' legendary Hillbilly Jazz -- April 4-5, 1975

The California music scene has some very interesting country rock and bluegrass music roots. I don't know how Jer met David Grisman, Peter Rowan, and Vassar Clements. The Old and In The Way album came out in 1973. imo, this set the stage for bringing Bluegrass music to the San Francisco area. On April 27- 28, 1974, Jer sits in with several famous bands and players at the Marin County Bluegrass Festival. Here is the eTree info page for the SBD of this festival.

Vassar Clements, 1928 - 2005, was a phenomenal violin player. His fiddle licks are universally recognized by every violinist in the world. He played on Wake of The Flood album. He played with Dickey Betts. He played with John Hartford. He played with everybody. Vassar was arguably the best fiddle player and violinist in Nashville -- who also played lots of live music. Check out the figurehead in the wood carving scroll, at the top of the neck, on the most famous fiddle he ever played.

fiddlehead.jpg

There's a great photo gallery and some cool info on Vassar's website. The Hillbilly Jazz album that Vassar put out in 1974 is a collective masterpiece. It features Doug Jernigan on pedal steel guitar. Wow!

From Vassar's Hillbilly Jazz webpage: Hillbilly Jazz is a form of music created by fiddle virtuoso Vassar Clements. Besides being one of the freshest sounds to come from Nashville, it is commercial, listenable, danceable and very enjoyable. Hillbilly Jazz is music that could and should get mass recognition, something the diehard followers have known and declared for years.

Hillbilly Jazz is an amalgam of the diverse influences that have touched Vassar throughout his career, but it's particularly a composite of his country background and his affinity for the jazz and swing music of his youth. Early in his career, Vassar learned Bluegrass and country styles while working with the like of Bill Monroe, et al., but he's also gained respect as a jazz player. His duet album with the legendary jazz fiddler Stephane Grappelli, "Together At Last" led to his fifth grammy nomination.

Vassar says, "actually I heard more swing than country or bluegrass while I was growing up in Florida. I've always loved that kind of rhythm." Back then he was just a young fiddler, naively interpreting on his instrument the sounds he was hearing his Big Band idols play.

"I used to sit in with combos in Florida, and I even won dance contests during the Big Band era. I was playing jazz along with them, but at this time, I had never heard of Stephane Grappelli, Joe Venutti or any of those great guys. Neither had I ever heard much western swing by Bob Wills. Somehow, I think the swing style, subconsciously has always come through in almost everything I've played."

Vassar has always been open-minded to new ideas and seemingly has been able to find common musical and philosophical bonds with anyone from the diversified roster of Artists who have enlisted his talents. He always seems emotionally caught up in his performances. As his bow glides effortlessly across the strings, his eyes closed, head cocked and a pensive expression on his face, it's as if he is lost in another world.

Hillbilly Jazz is an uninhibited and unabashed expression of Vassar's open-minded approach to music, people and life in general. In the true tradition of all the great musical stylists, Vassar has rejected the straitjacket of labeling. This has resulted in a natural blend of the creative freedom in jazz and the to the point honesty of country. He performs with the depth of someone who has lived a lot and as if his soul has been prepared to play his Hillbilly Jazz.

Instrumentally, Vassar boldly blazes a trail for his band. His fiddle solos soar and glide gently over the rhythm in a manner reminiscent of saxophonist Lester Young's work with the Count Basie Band decades ago. But what perhaps surprises even Vassar's most ardent admirers is his vocals, another definite statement of his affection for cultural roots and family ties.

But just as Bill Monroe is to bluegrass, Elvis Presley to rock and roll, and Bob Wills was to Western Swing, so will and should be Vassar Clements to the field of Hillbilly Jazz.

There may be many imitators, but Vassar Clements will always remain the king of Hillbilly Jazz.


Which brings me to TDIH, April 4-5, 1975. I was there when Hillbilly Jazz band performed these 2 nights (Fri / Sat) at the Exit / In club in Nashville. As far as I know, I'm the only guy who ever taped them. It's FOB and very good quality. It's quite possible that these 2 gigs are the only times this band ever played together live. This past Labor Day weekend, I released my old SBD tapes of the 1976 Pedal Steel Convention. I e-mailed Doug Jernigan and told him about my release. I also told him I had Hillbilly Jazz tapes! Please share this music and enjoy my tapes. Thank you everyone for letting me post this here.

April 4 show on The Archive
bit torrent at eTree
April 5 show on The Archive
bit torrent at eTree

Vassar Clements & Doug Jernigan
vassar-doug.jpg

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Poster: bluedevil Date: Apr 4, 2010 10:15am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: TDIH -- Vassar Clements' legendary Hillbilly Jazz -- April 4-5, 1975

Thanks and check this out for some more bio info:
http://rexfoundation.org/2009/04/24/peter-rowan/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Grisman

Grisman grew up in Hackensack, New Jersey.[1] He started his musical career in 1963 as a member of Even Dozen Jug Band. His nickname, "Dawg" was affectionately assigned by his close friend Jerry Garcia in 1973 (the two met in 1964 at a Bill Monroe show at Sunset Park in West Grove, PA). [And Vassar was then in Bill's band]

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Poster: dead-head_Monte Date: Apr 4, 2010 11:35am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: TDIH -- Vassar Clements' legendary Hillbilly Jazz -- April 4-5, 1975

I was born in Hackensack Hospital. The Dawg is older than me, and I don't know him. On tapes of Dawg music - with him as frontman, I've heard him say he likes to deny he's from NJ. Same as me.

Here's a juicy MP 3 nugget from the Hillbilly Jazz tapes. It's from an Allman Bros album a few years after Duane's death. I forgot the name of that album, as well, I forgot the name of this very popular ABB instrumental.

name this ABB instrumental
performed by Hillbilly Jazz, 7:21
Doug Jernigan and Vassar Clements do ABB

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Poster: vapors Date: Apr 4, 2010 11:58am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: TDIH -- Vassar Clements' legendary Hillbilly Jazz -- April 4-5, 1975

Don't know if I'll be the first to jump on this, but the song is Jessica, featured on the Brothers and Sisters album!

(I was born 12 miles from Hackensack in Orange Memorial Hospital)

This post was modified by vapors on 2010-04-04 18:58:51

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Poster: dead-head_Monte Date: Apr 4, 2010 12:09pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: TDIH -- Vassar Clements' legendary Hillbilly Jazz -- April 4-5, 1975

thanks — here's a pic from the Vapor room

Vassar Clements & Dickey Betts, 1982
g2i.jpg

I grew up in Bergenfield

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Poster: vapors Date: Apr 4, 2010 1:45pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: TDIH -- Vassar Clements' legendary Hillbilly Jazz -- April 4-5, 1975

Vassar and Dickey from around that time:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imFd1XAMLWI

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Poster: dead-head_Monte Date: Apr 4, 2010 3:30pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: TDIH -- Vassar Clements' legendary Hillbilly Jazz -- April 4-5, 1975

thanks — that's the best vintage-Vassar video clip I've seen yet, with John McEuen on banjo, from Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Apr 4, 2010 12:32pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: TDIH -- Vassar Clements' legendary Hillbilly Jazz -- April 4-5, 1975

I mentioned it before, but it's what makes the Grisman/Sebastian shows these days so cool: trading stories about the early scene in NY with this sort of music (jug band, etc.).

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Poster: pigpen_81 Date: Apr 4, 2010 10:36am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: TDIH -- Vassar Clements' legendary Hillbilly Jazz -- April 4-5, 1975

Thank you Monte,.. this is very cool ; ) Chocolate for my ears on Easter...

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Poster: vapors Date: Apr 4, 2010 11:35am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: TDIH -- Vassar Clements' legendary Hillbilly Jazz -- April 4-5, 1975

Nice. There are many clips with Vassar (Peter Rowan also) on youtube well worth checking out. While there I just learned that Charlie Daniels took Vassar’s Lonesome Fiddler Blues, added words and renamed it The Devil Went Down To Georgia. Here’s a quickie called Avalanche: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZoDbo-OMqI&;feature=related
And here’s one with some old timers (less two missing men) Vassar is featured @ 6:40: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YW8CboRmNwU

Been said here before, but all three Old & In The Way albums are priceless showcases of great Bluegrass music.(btw - although they played together a lot in 1973, the original Rounder album wasn't released until 2/75)